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Olympic torch relay route shortened

With China concerned over safety of the relay's India leg, the Govt shortens the flame's route from 9 kms to 3 kms.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2008 03:26 IST

With China voicing concern over safety of Olympic torch during its India leg, the government in New Delhi has decided to shorten the flame's relay route drastically from nine kilometers to about three kilometers.

The relay of the torch on April 17 was originally slated to be from Red Fort to India Gate but it has now been revised to make it shorter.

Confirming the development, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Randhir Singh said the details of the new route would be announced soon.

"The route has been shortened and the details will be made known on a later date," Singh told PTI. The decision is understood to have been taken at the high-level meeting chaired by Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta in New Delhi two days back in view of China's concerns about safety of the torch relay.

Chinese Embassy had conveyed to the government in New Delhi its apprehensions that Tibetan refugees could try to disrupt the relay, with a warning that the India-leg could be skipped if foolproof security was not ensured.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yan even met Home Minister Shivraj Patil to register his country's concerns. China's concerns were heightened after a group of Tibetan protesters stormed into its embassy in New Delhi on March 21, breaching heavy security around the premises.

In the wake of Beijing's concerns, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan had said the government would make all arrangements to ensure safe relay of the torch in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Bhaichung Bhutia's pullout from the relay in support of the Tibetan cause has not affected the long list of celebrities willing to carry the torch.

Randhir Singh said over 50 eminent personalities from various fields have been invited to run the relay and confirmations were pouring in. "We have got confirmations from a lot of celebrities," he said.